German buyers overtook the British buyers for the first time since records began, according to the Spanish Land Registrars’ Association, as overall foreign demand rose above pre-pandemic levels. Read to the bottom for a bar-chart race between the main nationalities that buy property in Spain.
16,600 Spanish home sales involved a foreign buyer in Q3, up 42.5% compared to the same time last year, reveal the latest figures from the registrars, illustrated in the chart above.
Big percentage increases on last year are to be expected as the market recovers from the slump caused by the pandemic, but foreign demand was also 8% higher than 2019, and 3% higher than 2018, suggesting the foreign appetite for Spanish property has more than recovered the ground it lost to the pandemic, at least for now.
Local demand has also rebounded strongly, up 52% on last year, and 28% on 2019. As a result total demand was up 51% in Q3 and 26% compared to 2019. The next chart shows how total demand has changed each quarter since the beginning of 2017.
The recovery in foreign demand has increased its share of the overall market to 10.8%, up from 9.7% in the first quarter of the year, which was the lowest it has been since 2013. That said, the foreign market share is still well below the level it has been for the last decade, in the 12% to 13% range.
Foreign demand for property in Spain by nationality in Q3 2021
In Q3 the Germans moved into the top spot with 1,730 property purchases, ahead of the British on 1,642. The French were in third place with 1,298, so the top three foreign markets continue to be France, Germany and the UK. In that respect there was no change.
The big news was that the British were not the biggest group of foreign buyers for the first time since the registrars started providing sales data by nationality back in 2006. ‘Real’ Brexit is a large part of this story, but even if the British are no longer top dog, they are still the second biggest group, so ignore news reports that make it sound like British demand has collapsed.
Because German buyers focus heavily on Mallorca the British are bound to be still the biggest group of buyers on the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, and Murcia.
Looking at the annualised change in demand by nationality there were big gains almost across the board, as to be expected when comparing to a period in 2020 when sales were still suppressed by the pandemic. The only market to decline compared to last year was Belgium, down 4%. Even the UK was up 8%.
I will look at individual markets in separate articles over the next few weeks to understand what is going on in more detail, for example the headwinds and tailwinds in different markets. But the picture we can see in the overall data is positive. It shows that foreign investors still have an appetite for property in Spain despite the ongoing pandemic and other headwinds such as Brexit and the unwelcoming way they are treated by the Spanish government.
Lastly, a bit of fun with a bar-chart race showing how demand for Spanish property has changed by nationality each quarter since the start of 2013.